Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Gabapentin is a commonly-prescribed drug designed to treat a variety of mental and physical conditions. It is also prone to abuse. Reports suggest that perhaps a fifth of people legally prescribed it, misuse it. 

In this post, we ask what gabapentin is, what happens when you take it, and whether it is addictive. In the end, we tell you how you can get help if you believe that you (or someone you know) may be abusing this drug. 

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic drug. It interacts with nerves associated with certain types of chronic pain and seizure. Patients may receive a course of gabapentin if they suffer from conditions such as shingles or nerve pain. 

Side Effects of Gabapentin

Gabapentin, like many drugs, can cause a host of side effects. Common side effects include: 

  • Headache
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Jerky movements
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Feet and leg swelling
  • Chills, fever and body aches

Gabapentin can also have some more dangerous side effects. Patients may occasionally have an allergic reaction to the drug that results in hives, facial swelling, and swelling of the mouth, lips tongue and throat. Others may experience swollen glands, muscle aches, skin rash and severe weakness. 

If you experience seizures, confusion, blue-colored skin or lips, or weak or shallow breathing, contact your doctor immediately. You may be having an adverse reaction.

Facts About Gabapentin

Here are some gabapentin facts: 

  • It helps to control seizures in some people with epilepsy
  • It may combat restless leg syndrome
  • Brand names include Neurontin, Gralise and Horizant
  • It can reduce moderate nerve pain, according to studies
  • Combined with oxycontin, it can help patients manage cancer pain
  • It may induce suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Doctors often prescribe gabapentin to patients as a less addictive alternative to opioids. However, the drug is still habit-forming and some patients will become addicted if they take it in high doses over a longer period. 

Can You Withdraw From Gabapentin?

Patients can withdraw from gabapentin – a process that typically takes five days or longer. However, the precise duration is not well-studied in humans. How long withdrawal takes typically depends on the length of misuse and the dosages involved. 

A study of gabapentin addiction running from 1993 to 2015 found that those who experienced withdrawal symptoms were taking around 3,000mg per day, while doctors will typically prescribe only 300 mg, three times per day. Withdrawal from misuse levels, therefore, is considerably more challenging than from medically-prescribed levels. 

Which Drugs Contain Gabapentin?

The following brand-name drugs contain gabapentin: 

  • Neurontin
  • Gralise
  • Gaborone
  • FusePaq Fanatrex

Abuse Side Effects

Using too much gabapentin can result in the following side effects: 

  • Forgetfulness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Coordination problems
  • Depression and suicidality
  • Changes in mood
  • Trouble speaking

If you notice any of these side effects but do not feel that you are misusing the drug, speak to a medical professional. 

Gabapentin and Alcohol

If you are taking gabapentin, you should limit or eliminate alcohol consumption. Taking both substances together can lead to adverse side effects and also increase withdrawal times. 

Gabapentin and Opiates

People often take gabapentin and opiates in combination to treat chronic pain. However, the combination may suppress breathing, which can be fatal. 

Using opiates alongside gabapentin can also increase the total quantity of available gabapentin in the body. This can potentially lead to overdose.

Symptoms of Gabapentin Addiction

Common signs and symptoms of possible gabapentin addiction include: 

  • Changes in personal grooming and hygiene habits
  • Lying about symptoms to doctors to try to get more of the drug
  • Changing between doctors in an attempt to get the new doctor to prescribe the drug
  • Alterations in social circle and friends
  • Trying to stop using the drug but failing
  • Anxiety that the drug might not be available
  • Refusal to stop using the drug despite financial and relationship consequences

Reach Out to Peaks Recovery Today

If you believe that you might have a gabapentin addiction, you can get help at Peaks Recovery Centers. We offer a range of inpatient and outpatient services designed to put your life back on track. 

We understand that nobody deliberately becomes addicted to gabapentin. It is usually something that happens over a long time period, sometimes without you noticing. Our team provides compassionate guidance, advice, monitoring, and supervision to help you overcome any gabapentin dependency safely and effectively. 

Don’t wait. Get in touch with us today.